Many people are familiar with Looney Tunes’ Taz, the Tasmanian devil cartoon. His snarling, bristling, aggressive, devilish behavior is not all that far from the truth, sometimes. With a notoriously bad-tempered disposition, he will fly into a seething, maniacal rage when threatened, protecting his mate, or feeding.
The Tasmanian devil is the largest carnivorous marsupial in the world, and European settlers were dismayed at his display of bared teeth, lunging, and savage growls and screams. It was they who gave the “devil” his name. With a proportionately large head, he has the strongest bite of any mammal his size.
However, it’s really hard to put this cute little fellow in the same category when you see him scampering after his human. The tiny creature will eventually be able to run 8 mph for short distances, but right now he’s doing all he can to keep up.
When the man bends down to pick up the little joey (as baby Tasmanian devils are called), it clings to him and climbs into his hands.
Laying him on his back and rubbing the little creature’s tummy, it’s easy to think it would make a great pet, and indeed, they can be tamed.
However, they are not friendly, neither looking for nor giving affection despite what this little one looks like. As an endangered species, it is against the law to keep them as pets, anyway. In addition to not being friendly, devils have a very unpleasant order.
The little creatures seem to have the cards stacked against them from the beginning. Mothers have litters of 20 to 30 young at a time, but since she only has four nipples, most of them perish. In the 1990s, a cancerous disease of the face decimated the population.
Once native to mainland Australia, the Tasmanian devil is now found in the wild in only two places: the island state of Tasmania, and the tiny, east-coast Maria Island, where there is a conservation project with disease-free animals.
Watch the video below and then tell us in the comments: should this endearing and yet dangerous animal be saved from extinction? What do you think?